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The Songs of Bilitis

3.86  ·  Rating Details ·  146 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews
Classic of erotic literature (1894), celebrating lesbian love, translation of original edition, complete with 161 sensuous illustrations by Willi Pogany.
Paperback, 192 pages
Published June 1st 1988 by Dover Publications (first published 1894)
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Huda Yahya
Oct 13, 2012 Huda Yahya rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, sexuality
هذه القصائد حارة

فإن كنت ممن لا يهوون الأدب الإيروتيكي
فهذا الديوان لا يصلح لك

ولكن القصائد تحمل فيها جمالا من نوع خاص
يتعدى أفكارها العارية

فبنية القصيدة
وعواطفها المشبوبة
ودقة تعبيراتها
كلها جعلتني دون تردد أعطيها الخمس نجوم كاملة
Dec 28, 2014 Yann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Et maintenant, sur les pâles prairies d'asphodèles, je me promène, ombre impalpable, et le souvenir de ma vie terrestre est la joie de ma vie souterraine.

Quelques illustrations de George Barbier(1882-1932):
(view spoiler)

Les Chansons de Bilitis sont l’œuvre la plus célèbre de Pierre Louÿs(1870-1925), un romancier français, qui s'est ici amusé à monter une petite mystification, faisant croire qu'il s'agissait d'un véritable document historique retrouvé, les œuvres d'une contempora
May 30, 2015 Teresa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: g-poesia, n-belgica, e4
Cento e cinquenta e oito poemas em prosa que relatam a vida de uma mulher que se entregou inteira ao amor.
Bilitis nasceu no século VI numa aldeia perto da Panfília (região da Turquia). Aí cresceu, apaixonou-se pela primeira vez e foi mãe. Não era feliz e um dia foi embora para não mais voltar...
"Lembro-me de ter amado...Ó Paniquis, minha filha, em que mãos te deixei? Como é que, infeliz, te pude abandonar?"
Um barco leva-a para a ilha de Lesbos, o centro do mundo, onde vivia a poetisa Safo. Aí
I like how he presented them as genuine sapphic works.

"The River in the Woods

I bathed alone in the River in the woods. Without a doubt I must have frightened the naiads for I could scarcely see them far away, under the dark water.
I called to them. To resemble them as much as possible, I plaited irises black as my hair behind nape, with clusters of cheiranthus.
From a long floating grass, I made a green belt, and to see there I pressed my breasts by slightly tilting my head.
And I called out: “Naia
Mariana Orantes
Apr 06, 2015 Mariana Orantes rated it it was amazing
A un lado del lugar al que debo asistir cada día del año, hay una librería llamada Jorge Cuesta. En esta librería fueron a dar libros de la biblioteca personal de Sergio Fernández, académico de la UNAM: en cada libro, un ex libris de un sátiro que con una mano sostenía su enorme y alargado falo... "es un erotómano" sentenció por ahí un amigo. Compré de su biblioteca, dos libros: una antología de Vicente Gerbasi y éste de Las canciones de Bilitis, editorial Thor, bellísima. Lo tenían catalogado c ...more
May 01, 2008 Dfordoom rated it it was amazing
In 1894 the young decadent writer Pierre Louÿs published what was claimed to a translation of a series of prose poems by Bilitis, a hitherto unknown Greek woman poet of the 6th century BC, a woman who not only lived at the same time as the great Sappho, but was actually known to her. These poems tell Bilitis’s life story, including her lesbian love affairs and her career as a courtesan in Cyprus. In fact Bilitis never existed, and Louÿs wrote the poems himself. This in no way lessens their liter ...more
P.H.G. Haslam
May 14, 2017 P.H.G. Haslam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I first became interested in this book when I heard Claude Debussy’s magnificent musical setting of these poems. And the book – like the music – is a quintessential example of the beautiful ways that the ancient world was being romanticised at the end of the nineteenth-century. These works exude a deep longing for a time and aura that perhaps never existed. Pierre Louÿs was part of the Symbolist/Decadent movement in art, and his fascination with ancient Greece – like many of his contemporaries – ...more
Alex Sarll
A book seemingly designed to tick all the reading list boxes in Keith TotP's 'Pretentious Title TBC' - a dead French poet pretending to be an even deader ancient Greek lesbian(ish) poet. He even got away with it for a while, and when he was busted, nobody much minded. You can see why - he captures something of that same oblique, crystalline melancholy as Bilitis' supposed contemporary and acquaintance ('acquaintance'), Sappho. And while from our distance we can also taste the distinct tang of th ...more
Apr 25, 2016 Matt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a fun book of speculative verse. The author is a French symbolist poet, who assumes the voice of a fictional ancient Greek poet called Bilitis. The poems trace a narrative from her early youth to her death. There was a bit of a scandal when the book was published because Louÿs makes it seem as if he is translating a real poet, going so far as to list "untranslated" poems in the table of contents and including a fake "life of Bilitis" as a preface. The artifice is fun, but if you know a l ...more

Pierre Louÿs was a nineteenth century French author known for lesbian and classical themes in his writing. His short work The Songs of Bilitis includes both of these themes. It is a sensual collection of prose poems that were originally published as translations from the ancient Greek. Louÿs alleged that Bilitis was an actual lesbian poetess from Sapphic antiquity. But this was a hoax; Bilitis and the poems are the creation of Louÿs.

Many of the short prose poems are very beautiful. Some are erot

Apr 01, 2014 Mariocarboni rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Straordinaria storia di un falso che rivelatosi rimane una raccolta di poesie d'amore che sembrano proprio scritte da Saffo. Chi non crede al ritorno o ai messaggi che travalicano i tempi e le generazioni si ricrederà . È indispensabile abbandonarsi sulla lettura senza pregiudizi . Certo i tempi nei quali questa opera è stata scritta si intravvedono tutti. Ma chi ha dimestichezza con l'amore saprà perdonare che solo oggi ha avuto l'occasione di leggere questo libro ingiustamente dimenticato.
♥ Ibrahim ♥
Jun 26, 2014 ♥ Ibrahim ♥ rated it liked it
Shelves: literature
The book reminds me of the Song of Songs in the Bible as far as its erotic touches are but this time with a Greek Sapphic flavor. It is still way too mild and I guess it is good for a young girl in her adolescent years. Not too bad but one just have to be in the mood for such poetic works marked by dreamy, girly style.
You could read that book online via:
Oct 03, 2013 Wilbur rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not sure what to think. Another man writing about a woman's sexual feelings. Not sure her life was so erotically wonderful. Some lovely passages, but as a complete work not very effective in this day and age.
Jun 22, 2014 Red rated it really liked it
Shelves: frenchie
i lack nothing
Jan 09, 2014 Samantha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This is some serious decadent and mythical word-porn. Naiads and dryads and flowery herbal stuff and heartbroken courtesans and tombs and whatnot. Do it.
Mar 13, 2011 Stephen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, 2011-reads
What a read. It's history is so interesting, but no matter whom may have written these menageries, they are simply beautiful. A array of subject matter- in pearls-that open the soul.
Sebastián Villagra
Sebastián Villagra rated it it was amazing
Jul 29, 2009
Simon Bate
Simon Bate rated it really liked it
May 23, 2011
Laitue rated it liked it
Oct 01, 2015
Eris Terra
Eris Terra rated it it was amazing
Nov 17, 2016
Paul de Ridder
Paul de Ridder rated it it was amazing
Jun 16, 2016
Charlotte rated it liked it
Jul 24, 2010
Maria Pia
Maria Pia rated it liked it
Nov 08, 2014
Nightocelot rated it it was amazing
Jan 28, 2017
Terresa rated it liked it
Mar 05, 2012
Yadoran rated it really liked it
Jul 06, 2016
Monica rated it liked it
Feb 25, 2014
Nik Kane
Nik Kane rated it liked it
Jul 26, 2014
César Velázquez
César Velázquez rated it liked it
Jan 30, 2016
Dan Goodman
Dan Goodman rated it it was ok
Jun 11, 2012
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Born in Belgium. in 1870, but moved to France where he would spend the rest of his life. He was a friend of authors André Gide and Oscar Wilde, and of composer Claude Debussy.
More about Pierre Louÿs...

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“I left the bed as she had left it, unmade and rumpled, coverlets awry, so that her body's print might rest still warm beside my own.

Until the next day I did not go to bathe, I wore no clothes and did not dress my hair, for fear I might erase some sweet caress.

That morning I did not eat, nor yet at dusk, and put no rouge nor powder on my lips, so that her kiss might cling a little longer.

I left the shutters closed, and did not open the door, for fear the memory of the night before might vanish with the wind.”
“When he came back, I hid my face within my hands. He said: "Fear nothing. Who has seen our kiss? --Who saw us? The night and the moon."

"And the stars and the first flush of dawn. The moon has seen its visage in the lake, and told it to the water 'neath the willows. The water told it to the rower's oar.

"And the oar has told it to the boat, and the boat has passed the secret to the fisher. Alas! alas! if that were only all! But the fisher told the secret to a woman.

"The fisher told the secret to a woman: my father and my mother and my sisters, and all of Hellas now shall know the tale.”
More quotes…